« AP, NBC Call VA Senate Race For Webb | Main | Good News! »

November 10, 2006

Comments

Yup,

We're in the fairly unusual position of being able to do the right thing on many issues that also are just good politics.

If we repealed all the earmarks from this year, 2/3rds of my congressional delegation would also keel over in shock. No bridges for you...

I don't know if it was Ezra Klein who pointed this out or someone in his orbit, but in regards to earmarks, I don't think the left should be eager to get rid of them.
When it comes time to pass national healthcare, we're going to need a lot of stuff we can bribe people with.

Webb's book Born Fighting gives some account of his views on general social conditions.

"Basically, I think that we should focus, for the next two years, on doing things that large chunks of the country agrees on."

Yes, and yes to as much above it as is possible and reasonable. About everything.

"...but partly also because I think we've had enough division to last a lifetime, and we need to get beyond it"

Utter nonsense.

If the Democrats are serious about ethics and lobbying reform, they'll have my whole-hearted support. For what it's worth.

I also think PAYGO is a great idea, and I would not oppose the repeal of some of Bush's tax cuts. Even half-hearted fiscal conservatism would be a welcome change.

Thanks for these thoughts!

Good discussion about policy direction going on at Mark Kleiman & Co.

Yay. :D

PAYGO is a really good idea. As much as I don't mind giving legislators fiscal freedom, clearly in our system the abuse is far greater than the benefit. Is there bipartisan support behind PAYGO?

Re: Tax cuts. Every Reagan Democrat should be behind tax increases, as should Reagan Republican. After all he raised them 7 times. Because he realized not doing so would inflict long term harm on the country. So repeal on the wealthiest. In fact, for the $200 per year the cuts saved me, take that back too. I really won't miss it that much.

One other thing I think the Dems should do. Have the Congress actually work more than 2 days per week. This last Congress met in session less than any Congress in a long time. Hard to really do anything when you aren't even meeting.

I would like to see a universal health care package, and some sort of alternative energy package that would deal with peak oil and climate change. Not because I think there is the slightest chance anything would pass the Senate GOP or Bush, but to cement once and for all the responsibility for the gigantic mess that's coming.

Rumsfeld may face criminal prosecution in Germany for detainee abuses

Couldn't happen to a nicer guy...

Investigate, Subpoena and Impeach Bush.


On a positive note, I would support a $2 a gallon gas tax combined with a much higher standard deduction and a more generous Earned Income Tax Credit to compensate the working & middle classes, a repeal of all the tax cuts to the wealthy.


A couple of items caught my eye in today's Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/10/AR2006111001800.html>This from the front page on how fixing the AMT is the first order of business. And this letter to the editor is worth quoting in full:

In Ruth Marcus's Nov. 1 op-ed column, "Pelosi's Unintelligent Choice," selection of Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (D-Fla.) to a leadership position on the House intelligence committee was characterized as "unintelligent." I disagree.

I have known Mr. Hastings for more than 30 years to be a man of intellect and character. For 14 years he has faithfully served his constituents in the House. Their regard for his service is such that he had neither primary nor general election opposition this year. For seven of those years he has been a member of the intelligence committee, and soon he will be its most senior Democrat. In my capacity as chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I worked closely with Mr. Hastings during the joint inquiry of the House and Senate on the role of the intelligence community before and after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He was a conscientious and contributing member of the inquiry.

The column focused on events of the early 1980s that led to his acquittal in a criminal case and his removal from the federal district court by the Senate. Having been governor of Florida during that period and known about most of the key participants, I found the circumstantial case against Judge Hastings to be unconvincing, and I voted against his removal. Twenty-five years later, it would be wrong for those allegations to deny Mr. Hastings the position of leadership for which he is qualified and prepared.

BOB GRAHAM
Miami Lakes, Fla.
The writer, a Democrat, represented Florida in the Senate from 1987 to 2004.

I'm not saying that I'd mindlessly defer to whatever some ex-politician has to say, but I think Sen. Graham has earned the right to have his opinions of intelligence issues considered pretty seriously.

Excellent, hilzoy. I may have further comments later, but today I'm going to a Gator football game, which is pretty much an all-day event.

PAYGO is a really good idea

I don't think I've ever seen PAYGO defined very well, so I don't know whether I agree. I absolutely don't think that we need to literally pay as we go; that we cannot ever spend more than to-date revenues. I also don't think that it's a good idea to limit expenditures to year-total revenues. What I do think might be useful is to control net deficit some starting date to zero, over time.

Not sure how such a control law would be codified into law, though. Or how cutbacks/tax increases would be done on the fly. So I'd be interested in what exactly is meant by PAYGO; if there's some obvious link to a description that most people agree with, I'd be happy if someone would post it.

As for Hastings, I believe Nancy Pelosi voted for his impeachment. Certainly the entirety of the House vote (save 3 opposing) thought it needed to go onto the Senate.

But certainly, Senator Graham's opinion counts for something. I'd want to hear more, though.

Great post Hil. I agree completely with about 95% of everything you wrote here. My only quibbles would be on the minimum wage and taxes (and even there I agree with you on the AMT).

On most of your points here (voting reform, ethics reform, earmarks, paygo, AMT) I would hope my side reaches across the aisle. I predict many will.

If Democrats stay focused on things most Americans can get behind, they will only increase their majorities in 08, and likely get the WH back. If not, back to the wilderness.

I think they will take your advice, not because they don’t want to go a little nuts, but because they know this election was as much about punishing the Republicans as it was wanting the Democrats back in power.

I would add one suggestion on national security that they really need to act on right now. AQ, al-Sadr, Chavez, Syria, Tehran, etc. are all praising the election results. Prominent Democrats need to be disavowing that kind of support, and stating to the world that they have no intention of going soft on the prosecution of terrorism or changing our opposition to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, etc. Withdrawing opposition to Bolton would be a great place to start.

Funny you should mention that OCSteve. Glen Greenwald's most recent piece is about that.

here

Personaly I don't think we should take the trash talk of the terrorists that seriously. The inteligence community consensus is that Al Queda does this stuff to help out the Republicans, since the Republicans are the best thing that ever happened for terrorism.

About the comments from al Qaeda et al; Hindrocket writes that "I don't think there is any doubt about the fact that the terrorists, world-wide, were hoping for a Democratic victory." Other people are saying similar things. As evidence, they cite the fact that various people in al Qaeda have said that they are overjoyed.

But this only establishes that al Qaeda is in fact overjoyed if we assume that al Qaeda is telling the truth. What earthly reason could there be to assume that that's true, as opposed to all the other possibilities, like: al Qaeda is saying these things in order to make us think that they are overjoyed at a Democratic victory? Do we have some reason to think that it hasn't crossed al Qaeda's mind to say things for effect, or that even though they have no problem with mass murder, they draw the line at lying?

I think we should do what's in our best interests, where our interests include preventing terrorism, regardless of what al Qaeda says. (Or rather: we should pay attention to what it says as data points for which there are a number of possible explanations, but we should not allow them to jerk our chains the way they now seem to be doing.)

OCSteve, that would certainly be convenient for Bush, but I don't think we should let terrorists determine our choice for UN ambassador, especially when it would require violating the will of the American people.

Slarti: PAYGO basically says: any new spending or tax cuts must be revenue-neutral. Cut taxes: fine, but you have to either cut spending or raise other taxes by an equivalent amount. Raise spending: ditto.

It's not a requirement that revenues equal expenditures more generally, which I think would be a bad idea -- it would have screwed us in WW2, for instance. It is a ban on doing new things that aren't paid for. The ban can be overridden, but I think it takes 60 votes in the Senate (which would be there in an emergency, but are harder to get for e.g. the bridge to nowhere.)

On a positive note, I would support a $2 a gallon gas tax combined with a much higher standard deduction and a more generous Earned Income Tax Credit to compensate the working & middle classes, a repeal of all the tax cuts to the wealthy.

And who do you think that $2 per gallon tax would hit the hardest? It would all but make driving for working and middle class people impossible. Now you may live in a larger city with great public transportation. But try living in a rural area, where many of the forgotten working and middle class people live. A raise in the gas tax isn't going to do anything to benefit the people in the bottom brackets of income.

I actually agree with much of what you have said, but I won't be swallowing the democrats all the sudden getting ethics. The new democrat congress has several members with ethical problems of their own. Are you going to call for their resignations? Are the new democratic leaders going to do so? I would really love to see the ethics cleaned up, but the reality is that nobody in congress really wants to do it.

So yeah, the voter may want to see an ethical clean up, but it isn't going to happen, the democrats will play lip service to ethics as much as the GOP did.

Do we have some reason to think that it hasn't crossed al Qaeda's mind to say things for effect, or that even though they have no problem with mass murder, they draw the line at lying?

All I am saying is that Democrats are perceived as being weak on national security. Take this opportunity to try to change that.

When Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calls “Bush’s defeat in the congressional elections an “obvious victory” for the Iranian nation”, how hard is it for Reid to step up to a microphone and say, “Hold on there Ayatollah, Democrats are no more in favor of you getting the bomb than the Republicans were”.

OCSteve: Prominent Democrats need to be disavowing that kind of support, and stating to the world that they have no intention of going soft on the prosecution of terrorism

Actually, I really hope that one of the things a Democratic Congress may accomplish is to end the soft-on-terrorism soft-on-the-causes-of-terrorism approach of the Bush administration.

If nothing else, if the threat of investigation can end Bush's illegal spying on the American people, the resources presently used for eavesdropping on any group that may be politically opposed to the Bush administration, will now be available to be actually directed at people who are justly suspected of being terrorists.

Plus, I hope that the new Congress will be opposed to Bush's other major waste of resources and terrorist recruiting tool, the American gulag archipelago: and while I doubt Congress will be able to release these prisoners, now the Bush administation knows that votes for illegal imprisonment and torture will no longer be automatically rubberstamped by Congress, and that the criminal activities by which the archipelago has been filled may be subject to investigation by Congress, they must (I hope) realise they cannot continue. All of this will be a good in the campaign against al-Qaeda which Bush has so long and so shamefully ignored and undercut and starved of resources.

Plus, I hope that the new Congress will be opposed to Bush's other major waste of resources and terrorist recruiting tool

Well, okay, the war in Iraq comes ahead of that as a waste of resources/terrorist recruitment/training area, but as Hilzoy points out, there is nothing that Congress can justly be expected to do about that. It's the President's mess.

OCSteve- Actually no Democrats aren't perceived as weak on national security. All the recent polling indicates that the Democratic party is more trusted on national security, terrorism, and the war in Iraq, along with fiscal policy of course.

Republicans have forfeited America's trust on national security, and most Americans know it by now.

Italics begone!

Slart, I don't recall Ms. Pelosi's stint as governor of Florida, nor would I assume that she knows the facts as well as Graham. Let's see if the guy does well in the chair position: if not, it's a legitimate club with which to whack Pelosi.

OCS, I don't give a FF what Chavez, OBL, or young Assad have to say about US politics. We should, we must, ignore them completely. You (and the fools at Powerline) can judge the policies as they emerge. Bolton isn't the best choice for the job, and sending him up again in order to create a confrontation shows just how serious the President is about reaching across the aisle. There are dozens of well qualified people who could get 95 votes for confirmation. The Rovist impulse to send a guy who can get 52 is bad for the President and bad for the country.

(I think -- and I know I've said it before -- that Mr. Rove should have been summarily and publicly fired in late 03 or early 04 when his memo leaked about how the war would help Republicans. The President could have said that the war is about the national interest, has nothing whatsoever to do with politics, and that anyone who thought it did had no business being on the federal payroll. Let them be paid by a party. I think he would have been re-elected with 60% of the vote and 90% of the electoral college. That's political capital, and maybe even enough to have weathered two more years in Iraq.)

OCS -- x posted.

I think it's a bad idea for Reid to conduct foreign policy in that manner. It'll fall to Biden anyway; he's been talking about this stuff for years, and no one thinks he's pro-Iran on nukes. (No one in touch with reality, which therefore excludes certain dead-enders). Once the changeover has happened, you can look for the Senate to be to the 'right' of the Executive on this -- bringing up witnesses (Rice maybe) and demanding to know what the government is going to do to prevent an Iranian nuke.

Fine - have it your way. As you say, us fools will judge the policies as they emerge.

x-posted again.

OCS, I'm not calling you a fool. Not at all.

OCSteve: As you say, us fools will judge the policies as they emerge.

Charley specifically referred to "the fools at Powerline" which would not include you.

I would only call you a fool if I was calling all us plebs fools - plebs with nothing to do but watch/comment, me as well as you.

Slart, I don't recall Ms. Pelosi's stint as governor of Florida

Salient point. Or would be, if I'd mentioned any such thing. Or if any such thing were relevant to Hastings' impeachment.

Still, it would be odd, wouldn't it, that some of the same members of Congress that sent Hastings up for impeachment were instrumental in getting him his committee chair?

We're leaving right about now. Later I'm going to check the Senate roll call vote to see who did in fact vote to convict.

Take, for instance, making sure that voting in this country is transparent and trustworthy, and that as many dirty tricks as we can think of are illegal (and carry jail sentences.)

You mean dirty tricks like this?

Ponies! We each deserve a pony. Where is my pony? ;)

I don't think Democrats need to stand up and reject al Qaeda's "support" for the Democratic victory anymore than Lennon and McCartney should have been required to deny writing "Helter Skelter" to appeal to Charles Manson and the Family's taste in music, or J.D. Salinger should have been required to apologize for the nutcases who hallucinate that "Catcher in the Rye" is telling them to visit a gun show.

Further, George W. Bush stated after his meeting with Democratic leaders that now "we" can now prove that Republicans and Democrats are equally patriotic.

I can't tell if that is some kind of Texan (via Andover) way of starting a whole new pissing contest or not.

On pay-as-you-go, I'm in favor of discipline too, but let's remember that deficit spending may be one big reason the economy has recovered (unevenly) from the 2001 recession. Not that anyone in the Administration would mention this, preferring to view the deficit, for larger ideological purposes, as an anchor, rather than a flotation device.

At any rate, the economy has recovered somewhat, and notwithstanding structural problems, now is a good time to trim here and there and raise taxes and revenue.

My target is 39.7% on the top rate, but let me be clear that I do NOT favor starving everyone in the Ukraine, in case anyone might think that is on my to-do list.

plebs with nothing to do but watch/comment, me as well as you.

I’ll call myself a fool then. It’s 65 and sunny outside, likely the finest day left in the year, and here I sit arguing on a blog :)

(Actually I have work to do, but as I look out the window what self-discipline I possess is fading fast.)

If it makes you fell any better OCSteve, your arguing is so mild, but cogent, that I don't know how anyone can tell what's up. ;)

Incidentally, while the Democrats should ignore Republican calls for closing al Qaeda and Iranian campaign offices, John Cole and Tim F. at Balloon Juice do a nice job of telling Hinderacker and Goldberg to kiss the electorate's butt.

I wouldn't mind if Reid and Pelosi held a news conference and turned the other cheek, as well.

How come you're working on a Saturday? I also am sitting by a window, also distracted, but by the sight of a Pacific loon, a flock of whitewinged scoters, a trio of redbreasted mergansers and some tiny black and white grebes. I trot out all this to impress hilzoy, of course.
The letter from Graham upthread is intersting. I had swallowed the Hastings is a crook line totally. If the cntroversey is just that he was acquitted (acquitted, for chrissake) of something in the eighties, then I can't see how it is a big blot on his character. I'll have to do some research on this after the loon leaves.

I would add comprehensive immigration reform to the list. Bush already wants it but his proposal didn't make it because of the hardliners. Stricter border controls AND a workable guest worker program are also the right thing to do.

On taxes, I would let the cuts lapse for incomes over $200K.

Lily: "....after the loon leaves."

I'll try not to take that personally. ;)

Lily, he was acquitted in court but convicted in the impeachment proceedings.

Hilzoy,

Thanks for beginning a very important and interesting discussion. I just have one comment and one question.

Comment: Regarding the alignment of Democratic and military values, it is interesting and ironic that the military, itself is the most Socialistic organization in the country. Socialized health care, housing, use of seniority in rank for pay purposes. Even socialized ( i.e. government subsidized) consumerism in the PXs and exchanges. Full retirement with health care coverage. The list goes on and on. I'm not implying that the military personnel are getting too many benefits, but only that they see this as the appropriate way to treat their "citizens".

Question: If the Ds stick to only items that are popular across party lines, mightn't we fall short on human rights and equal protection issues? It seems these should be bipartisan, but often aren't. While economic issues that are divisive can be put on hold until a more convenient political time, human rights and equal protection should never have to face that calculus.

Some of you who are eloquent on prisoner treatment or equal rights for gays, etc. may have more to say about this question?

I, too see the Loons.......

I did a little sniffinng arouund and I found a legal document by a District Judge Sporkin that said, among other things, that Senators Spector and Bingaman (Chair and Vice Chair of the impeachment committee)thought Hastings should be acqutted as did most of the members of the committee, and that the votes for impeachment came from the Senators who did not actually attend the hearing and didn't review the evvidence. So maybe it wasn't fair. The Senate had the option of banning Hastings from pursuing a political career at the federal level but they chose not to do so.

How come you're working on a Saturday?

I work mostly 7 days a week. Though I try to keep it to a half day Sat/Sun. Struggling to stay in the middle class, don’t you know. Although I’m not sure what that is any more if it goes up to a half mil.

I remember that when I was growing up, my family thought of the middle class as being a family where only the father had to work, and on his salary they could pay all their bills, own their own home, not go into debt beyond a mortgage and college tuition. It seemed like an unobtainable dream at the time – too bad it still seems unobtainable for so many people.

So I can agree with letting tax cuts expire for those making over $200k. And I’ve never been too worried about the AMT affecting me either. I guess I don’t really consider people making that kind of money as middle class, or even upper middle class – it seems downright wealthy from this vantage point.

Unfortunately the roll call votes on the Senate site only go back to 1990, and the impeachment was in 1989.

Graham's letter about Hastings is heartening, because I have a lot of respect for Graham. TPM has a precis up about other House Dems in line for committee chairs who have had ethics problems, so I might write to Pelosi anyway. If Pelosi's serious about having "the most ethical Congress ever," she can surely start by making sure the higher ranking Representatives are the cleanest available.

OTOH, it's next to impossible to get all corruption out of politics. Just the nature of the beast, I guess. The difference between the ordinary "tolerable" sort, and what we've seen in the past 4 years, is corruption becoming nearly the entire business and purpose of legislation, to the stark detriment of the public interest.

And in Seattle it's Not Raining: cause enough for celebration!

It being the season to fatten up for the winter, I put food out for the critters hereabouts. I've had to start putting the squirrels' peanuts under the porch furniture so they get it before the crows do. And I refill the kibble tray twice: once in the morning for the neighborhood cats (some of whom have homes, but others don't seem to) and again at night for the raccoons and possums. My own kitties don't seem to mind (or be minded by) the visitors - except for one night when a momma raccoon came by with her kids, and was inclined to be testy at everyone who even looked at them.

Today I saw a PAWS adoption notice for an older male black cat who, other than his long hair, looks amazingly like my dear old Jazz who had to be put to sleep a couple summers ago. It took a real act of will not to run off to the adoption center - I'm determined not to have more than 2 cats. But I'm going to lose sleep over it, I think. (Thank god PAWS is a no-kill shelter!)

Over 200,000 seems richh to me, too. I found the Judge Sporkin document at this web address: classes.lls.edu/archive/menheimk/fedcts/hastings1. Actually I found it by typing "alcee hastings" into my aol search and then I looked for a linnk that didnn't seem to be too obviously righhtwinng or pro-Alcee. Catsy wrote out for me the directionns on how to do links but I lost it when I moved, hence thhese complicated directions.

I meant the House site. The Senate site actually goes back slightly farther, but still not far enough.

I think this is the document, Lily (there were a couple of typos in the URL).

Yeah, that's it. Thanks.

I found three Washington Post articles about the impeachment and later legal decisions, plus a bit about the point Lily made at the end of her 01:14 comment.

Any Hindrocket quote needs to be buttressed with this one (just in case you've forgotten):

It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can't get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.
-John Hinderaker, July 28, 2005

This captures the era 9/12/01 - 11/7/06 and its media environment perfectly.

"Question: If the Ds stick to only items that are popular across party lines, mightn't we fall short on human rights and equal protection issues? It seems these should be bipartisan, but often aren't. While economic issues that are divisive can be put on hold until a more convenient political time, human rights and equal protection should never have to face that calculus.

Some of you who are eloquent on prisoner treatment or equal rights for gays, etc. may have more to say about this question?"

I flatly don't trust the Democrats as a collective group on those issues. And I don't think they'll be any sort of a priority. Plenty of Democrats who agree with me about those issues--based on this post I'd say hilzoy; though I doubt that's actually true--don't think they should be a priority.

I don't think they need to a priority in the sense of at the top of our agenda and substituting for a minimum wage hike. But to say that we shouldn't try anything Bush will veto, no. The final vote counts are fluid, and there are some things where President Bush would want to veto but it would be politically problematic. We're not going to get the whole MCA repealed, but if it were a priority, we could probably pass legislation restoring habeas corpus to at least noncitizens living in the US. We might be able to get those anti-rendition bills through. And I think we could do things with the US criminal justice system. I don't think any of those are politically so radioactive, but I wouldn't be confident in them having majority public support to start out with--you'd have to try to change public opinion. And this is not what the Democrats do, and I don't expect them to start. Before the election we can't act because we're powerless and it's so crucial to gain at least one house of Congress--we just need to win, we can't worry about anything else. After the election we can't act because we're on probation, we have too much to lose. There will never be a right time.

This is why, though I always vote with them, I identify less and less and and less and less and less with the Democratic party over time.

That said, there are individual Congresspeople I trust completely on these issues, and two of them (Patrick Leahy and Carl Levin--I know less about the House) are going to chair the Judiciary and Armed Services committees. To the extent that there are any gains on these issues (as opposed to just an end to them getting worse--which is nothing to sneeze at!) I expect it to be at the individual initiative of people like Leahy, which carries enough of their colleagues along--not the Democratic leadership.

Hide the women and children, the Muslims are coming, the Muslims are coming (to caucus in the House.) Be afraid, be very afraid.

Conyers, who runs an Arabic version of his official Web site, does the bidding of these new constituents and the militant Islamist activists who feed off them. They want to kill the Patriot Act and prevent the FBI from profiling Muslim suspects in terror investigations. They also want to end the use of undisclosed evidence against suspected Arab terrorists in deportation proceedings.

...
Conyers has also sponsored one of the Islamists' favorite bills in Congress. HR 635, which has 40 co-signers, would create a select committee to investigate President Bush for allegedly manipulating prewar intelligence and torturing al-Qaida detainees. The goal of his bill is to build grounds for impeachment.

Conyers led the defense of Bill Clinton in last decade's impeachment hearings and is clearly out for blood. So are many of the constituents he serves.


From an Investors Business Daily editoral.

I can't imagine why I didn't include repealing the hateful commissions bill -- at least the parts of it that deal with habeas corpus, the Geneva Conventions, etc., and the definition of 'enemy combatant', and amending the rest to make the military commissions non-awful. I was thinking more of stuff to enact than stuff to repeal, but still. It is a priority for me, as is bringing the administration into conformity with FISA.

Hide the women and children

Well, it’s obvious.

Conyers was on the House prosecution team against Hastings. Conyers helped move Hastings’ articles of impeachment out of the House, and the Senate convicted – even though Hastings had been acquitted by a criminal trial. Hastings is now likely to be the new House intelligence committee head. Now we see that Conyers is actually controlled by the Muslims.

Don’t you see? It is a huge conspiracy going all the way back to 1989! They had to impeach Hastings to get him elected to the House so he could be in position today to help Conyers dismantle the Patriot Act.

(just filling in for some of the nuttier folks on my side)

OT – Happy Veterans Day to all currently serving and all veterans. If you are lurking Andrew, thank you for your service.

If you know a veteran, take 1 minute out of your day to say thank you.

100% agreement with OCSteve about Veterans Day. Though I also think that humane and responsible treatment of our veterans is another of the issues the Democrats ought to pick up on, since the Republican machine has decided not to care about them.

(just filling in for some of the nuttier folks on my side)

They seem to do fine on their own. I thought the "very afraid" bit was parody, but I see another of their editorials here :

But then, Democrats haven't wanted us to win in any war since World War II, not even the Cold War. This is why for the next two years we need to be afraid, very afraid.

The Onion needs to be afraid, very afraid. Parody is dead.

Fun thread -- a few thoughts.

PAYGO cannot be law -- it's internal rules for running Congress, and can be changed at will. The point is to create a political price for doing so, and a default position that requires this fiscal discipline unless someone justifies doing otherwise. They work well when there is a majority consensus for fiscal discipline, as there was in the 90s.

The long term key to the immigration issue is enforcement. Currently, the de facto policy of this country is to encourage some degree of illegal immigration -- all the current yelling and screaming is about a perception that there are too many, rather than any at all. We already have this black market version of a guest worker program. This is due to an addiction to cheap wages at all levels -- nannies for the middle class to WalMart. The policy is implemented by giving everyone a pass when they employ illegals, and only the flimsy mechanism for checking the veracity of ID records of prospective employees.

The biggest problem with enforcement is the bias it introduces against those who look like illegals.

Trying to prevent illegal immigration through enhanced border enforcement without impacting the benefits of getting here will never work. The human tide is too strong. Nothing wrong at all with improving border security, but it cannot be effective on its own.

There is no such thing as a workable guest worker program -- they amount to a form of slavery and are incompatible with fundamental American values. (Where do they live? Can they travel freely? Are they protected by wage and hour, discrimination and worker comp laws? Can they sue in our courts for workplace related wrongs? You end up institutionalizing the treatment of human beings as a legal underclass -- think Saipan)

And the idea that they are necessary because there are no legal residents who will do certain jobs? That is a myth. The correct formulation is that there may be inadequate numbers of legal residents who will do certain jobs at the crap wages currently offered since illegals will rapidly fill them at those wage levels. Eliminating illegals from the labor pool does not mean the jobs go unfilled -- they just get filled at higher wages.

Excellent post. Agree 100%.

Though I also think that humane and responsible treatment of our veterans is another of the issues the Democrats ought to pick up on, since the Republican machine has decided not to care about them.

You would certainly have my support on that front. I have never had to deal with the VA beyond money issues (tuition reimbursement), but I have heard plenty of horror stories. I am thankful I have never had to depend on VA hospitals.

OCSteve is absolutely right about Democrats missing an opportunity to jump all over the Al-Qaeda story. They should have jumped on it sooner than their opponents, if possible. If they trotted out the story rather than waiting for it to be exposed, they could have framed it. And they should have said just what OCSteve suggested.

As to the substance of it, Al Qaeda in Iraq also said we should stay in Iraq and we should not leave. We should show them that we don't listen to terrorists! We'll withdraw immediately!

dmb,

I would much rather have a guest worker program than the current situation. I see no reason why such workers could not be granted normal protections with respect to the various issues you mention in your comment. In fact, one of my concerns is that illegal immigrants are ready targets for all sorts of abuses.

Employer sanctions and stricter border control would reduce illegal immigration somewhat, but it simply cannot be eliminated. We share a long border with a country, a region even, much poorer than the US. People are going to get across. In my opinion, immigration policy must look for humane ways to deal with that reality, the fact that illegals are, I suppose, technically criminals notwithstanding.

Am I right to think that PAYGO, as being discussed here, applying to each bill, would be an even tighter restriction than a balanced budget law?

Imagine the phenomenally low interest rates we'd be enjoying if the fed gov't weren't pulling $300-$400 bil a year out of the capital markets. Keeping interest rates low is going to loom larger as a political challenge in the next 15-20 years.

Funny how the wealth effect of the tax cuts for the middle class was swamped by the interest rate rises caused by the fiscal policy. And yet Bush talks about all the favors he has done for the middle class. And yet the Democrats don't nail him on this.

I think it is interesting that left-wing types (like me) are considering something like PAYGO. It must mean the end of Keynesian planning. As far as I'm concerned, we have a systematic political problem. Our system of government responds strongly to focused interests and weakly to diffuse interests. And so there is porkbarrel and special-interest allocations. Then, there's the problem of logrolling, which exacerbates the porkbarrel. Tax increases are never ever popular. A tax decrease is always popular. And spending bills generally win more votes than they lose.

The country has lasted a long, long while, but realistically we're talking about a new problem, since the size of government is larger than it used to be and getting larger still. And as economies progress, services (and government is mostly a service) become pricier relative to other goods.

Something must be done, simply because the incentives of politicians seeking reelection are just in this way not aligned with the long-term interests of those they represent. I don't mean to demonize politicians. It would be dumb to expect people -- even good, competent people -- not to follow their incentives, but it does mean that I would like to change the system they work within to refine those incentives.

btw, the Latino vote was the single biggest demographic swing towards the Democrats, I believe. And many of the most anti-immigrant candidates lost.

I don't know that we have to settle for a guest worker program. The McCain-Kennedy bill approach of "earned citizenship" had the votes to pass the Senate even before. The House just changed dramatically in our favor. And the President is going to want to sign something.

I'm okay with upping enforcement but only if we also up the amount of legal immigration, dramatically.

This issue is another reason to be glad Patrick Leahy is judiciary chair. The administration is not anti-immigrant, but they do support some very very bad measures, particularly regarding the immigration courts. I don't know that Congress is even capable of passing immigration legislation that REALLY makes sense, but if anyone would oversee that, it's him.

Yikes, Jay, I didn't realize IBD was a straight-up wingnut publication. I'm surprised that editorial didn't include the word "dhimmitude".

OCSteve:

I've heard plenty of horror stories too regarding the VA, mostly back East. However, my father-in-law spent more than 5 years in a VA hospital/nursing home in Colorado as he battled Alzheimers disease and the care was excellent, better than the private hospital he was shunted to before we completed the admissions process for the VA.

Everything can improve. I drove by John Elway's house the other day and noticed what can happen when a person or a country throws money at a problem, like finding shelter.

It looked good.

KCinDC:

Yep, the IBD has tried to outcompete the Wall Street Journal since its inception, even to the extent of hiring wackier wackos for its editorial page.

Decent charts, though.

Some random thoughts. I feel the same as Katherine, not that the Dems are 'my party', but that they get closer to my concerns about human rights and justice. This makes it worrying to note the populist strain in the Dem tsunami (who was it who talked about the Democranami ;^)) I am more than a bit suspicious of populism as a force, except as a corrective. In this case, it definitely was, but as Dems seek to create sustainability, the urge to go to populist us vs. them rhetoric may be too difficult to resist.

One comforting thing is that it seems that the electorate has seen thru the notion of using immigration as a populist issue, though I'm sure that Lou Dobbs will be doing his best to whip it up again. I am worried that the Dems will view Iraq as completely intractable, and turn to immigration as the arena where they can get things done and end up kowtowing to the organizations that have a notion of separatist populism.

Ara, PAYGO can be overridden by 60 votes on a roll-call vote. So Congress can always decide that something warrants increasing the deficit, they just have to be willing to go on record as feeling that about this particular measure. I think that's good psychology.

Glad to see my sniping at the top of the thread created its intended bi-partisan discussion. At your service,etc.

Now that our side has a majority in both houses they should actually USE the subpeona power and launch a REAL independent investigation into 9/11.

One thing that struck me as odd in the days after 9/11 was Bush saying "We will not tolerate conspiracy theories [regarding 9/11]". Sure enough there have been some wacky conspiracy theories surrounding the events of that day. The most far-fetched and patently ridiculous one that I've ever heard goes like this: Nineteen hijackers who claimed to be devout Muslims but yet were so un-Muslim as to be getting drunk all the time, doing cocaine and frequenting strip clubs decided to hijack four airliners and fly them into buildings in the northeastern U.S., the area of the country that is the most thick with fighter bases. After leaving a Koran on a barstool at a strip bar after getting shitfaced drunk on the night before, then writing a suicide note/inspirational letter that sounded like it was written by someone with next to no knowledge of Islam, they went to bed and got up the next morning hung over and carried out their devious plan. Nevermind the fact that of the four "pilots" among them there was not a one that could handle a Cessna or a Piper Cub let alone fly a jumbo jet, and the one assigned the most difficult task of all, Hani Hanjour, was so laughably incompetent that he was the worst fake "pilot" of the bunch. Nevermind the fact that they received very rudimentary flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station, making them more likely to have been C.I.A. assets than Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. So on to the airports. These "hijackers" somehow managed to board all four airliners with their tickets, yet not even ONE got his name on any of the flight manifests. So they hijack all four airliners and at this time passengers on United 93 start making a bunch of cell phone calls from 35,000 feet in the air to tell people what was going on. Nevermind the fact that cell phones wouldn't work very well above 4,000 feet, and wouldn't work at ALL above 8,000 feet. But the conspiracy theorists won't let that fact get in the way of a good fantasy. That is one of the little things you "aren't supposed to think about". Nevermind that one of the callers called his mom and said his first and last name, more like he was reading from a list than calling his own mom. Anyway, when these airliners each deviated from their flight plan and didn't respond to ground control, NORAD would any other time have followed standard operating procedure (and did NOT have to be told by F.A.A. that there were hijackings because they were watching the same events unfold on their own radar) which means fighter jets would be scrambled from the nearest base where they were available on standby within a few minutes, just like every other time when airliners stray off course. But of course on 9/11 this didn't happen, not even close. Somehow these "hijackers" must have used magical powers to cause NORAD to stand down, as ridiculous as this sounds because total inaction from the most high-tech and professional Air Force in the world would be necessary to carry out their tasks. So on the most important day in its history the Air Force was totally worthless. Then they had to make one of the airliners look like a smaller plane, because unknown to them the Naudet brothers had a videocamera to capture the only known footage of the North Tower crash, and this footage shows something that is not at all like a jumbo jet, but didn't have to bother with the South Tower jet disguising itself because that was the one we were "supposed to see". Anyway, as for the Pentagon they had to have Hani Hanjour fly his airliner like it was a fighter plane, making a high G-force corkscrew turn that no real airliner can do, in making its descent to strike the Pentagon. But these "hijackers" wanted to make sure Rumsfeld survived so they went out of their way to hit the farthest point in the building from where Rumsfeld and the top brass are located. And this worked out rather well for the military personnel in the Pentagon, since the side that was hit was the part that was under renovation at the time with few military personnel present compared to construction workers. Still more fortuitous for the Pentagon, the side that was hit had just before 9/11 been structurally reinforced to prevent a large fire there from spreading elsewhere in the building. Awful nice of them to pick that part to hit, huh? Then the airliner vaporized itself into nothing but tiny unidentifiable pieces no bigger than a fist, unlike the crash of a real airliner when you will be able to see at least some identifiable parts, like crumpled wings, broken tail section etc. Why, Hani Hanjour the terrible pilot flew that airliner so good that even though he hit the Pentagon on the ground floor the engines didn't even drag the ground!! Imagine that!! Though the airliner vaporized itself on impact it only made a tiny 16 foot hole in the building. Amazing. Meanwhile, though the planes hitting the Twin Towers caused fires small enough for the firefighters to be heard on their radios saying "We just need 2 hoses and we can knock this fire down" attesting to the small size of it, somehow they must have used magical powers from beyond the grave to make this morph into a raging inferno capable of making the steel on all forty-seven main support columns (not to mention the over 100 smaller support columns) soften and buckle, then all fail at once. Hmmm. Then still more magic was used to make the building totally defy physics as well as common sense in having the uppermost floors pass through the remainder of the building as quickly, meaning as effortlessly, as falling through air, a feat that without magic could only be done with explosives. Then exactly 30 minutes later the North Tower collapses in precisely the same freefall physics-defying manner. Incredible. Not to mention the fact that both collapsed at a uniform rate too, not slowing down, which also defies physics because as the uppermost floors crash into and through each successive floor beneath them they would shed more and more energy each time, thus slowing itself down. Common sense tells you this is not possible without either the hijackers' magical powers or explosives. To emphasize their telekinetic prowess, later in the day they made a third building, WTC # 7, collapse also at freefall rate though no plane or any major debris hit it. Amazing guys these magical hijackers. But we know it had to be "Muslim hijackers" the conspiracy theorist will tell you because (now don't laugh) one of their passports was "found" a couple days later near Ground Zero, miraculously "surviving" the fire that we were told incinerated planes, passengers and black boxes, and also "survived" the collapse of the building it was in. When common sense tells you if that were true then they should start making buildings and airliners out of heavy paper and plastic so as to be "indestructable" like that magic passport. The hijackers even used their magical powers to bring at least seven of their number back to life, to appear at american embassies outraged at being blamed for 9/11!! BBC reported on that and it is still online. Nevertheless, they also used magical powers to make the american government look like it was covering something up in the aftermath of this, what with the hasty removal of the steel debris and having it driven to ports in trucks with GPS locators on them, to be shipped overseas to China and India to be melted down. When common sense again tells you that this is paradoxical in that if the steel was so unimportant that they didn't bother saving some for analysis but so important as to require GPS locators on the trucks with one driver losing his job because he stopped to get lunch. Hmmmm. Further making themselves look guilty, the Bush administration steadfastly refused for over a year to allow a commission to investigate 9/11 to even be formed, only agreeing to it on the conditions that they get to dictate its scope, meaning it was based on the false pretense of the "official story" being true with no other alternatives allowed to be considered, handpicked all its members making sure the ones picked had vested interests in the truth remaining buried, and with Bush and Cheney only "testifying" together, only for an hour, behind closed doors, with their attorneys present and with their "testimonies" not being recorded by tape or even written down in notes. Yes, this whole story smacks of the utmost idiocy and fantastic far-fetched lying, but it is amazingly enough what some people believe. Even now, five years later, the provably false fairy tale of the "nineteen hijackers" is heard repeated again and again, and is accepted without question by so many Americans. Which is itself a testament to the innate psychological cowardice of the American sheeple, i mean people, and their abject willingness to believe something, ANYTHING, no matter how ridiculous in order to avoid facing a scary uncomfortable truth. Time to wake up America.

Debunking Popular Mechanics lies:
http://www.lookingglassnews.org/viewstory.php?storyid=6880
someone else debunking Popular Mechanics crap:
http://www.serendipity.li/wot/pop_mech/reply_to_popular_mechanics.htm
still more debunking Poopular Mechanics:
http://letsroll911.org/ipw-web/bulletin/bb/viewtopic.php?t=5505
and still more debunking of Popular Mechanics:
http://www.reopen911.org/ericreubt.htm

Poopular Mechanics staff replaced just before laughable “debunking” article written:
http://www.reopen911.org/hiddenhand.htm
another neo-con 9/11 hit piece explodes, is retracted:
http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/august2006/180806hitpiece.htm
Professor Steven Jones debunks the N.I.S.T. “report” as well as the F.E.M.A. one and the 9/11 commission "report":
http://www.infowars.com/articles/sept11/wtc_buildings_collapse_steven_jones.htm
N.I.S.T. scientist interviewed:
http://www.teamliberty.net/id235.html
F.B.I. says no hard evidence linking Osama bin Laden to 9/11 which is why his wanted poster says nothing about 9/11:
http://forum.afghansite.com/index.php?showtopic=9349
Fire Engineering magazine says important questions about the Twin Tower “collapses” still need to be addressed:http://fe.pennnet.com/Articles/Article_Display.cfm?Section=OnlineArticles&SubSection=Display&PUBLICATION_ID=25&ARTICLE_ID

Twin Towers’ construction certifiers say they should have easily withstood it:
http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/november2004/121104easilywithstood.htm
USA Today interview with the last man out of the South Tower, pursued by a fireball:
http://www.usatoday.com/news/sept11/2001/12/19/usat-escape.htm
Janitor who heard explosions and escaped has testimony ignored by 9/11 whitewash commission:
http://www.americanfreepress.net/html/ignoring_9-11.html
Janitor starts speaking out about it and his apartment is burglarized, laptop stolen:
http://kurtnimmo.blogspot.com/2005/08/apartment-of-nine-eleven-hero-william_28.html
Firefighters tell of multiple explosions:
http://www.wnbc.com/news/1315651/detail.html
Eyewitnesses tell of explosions:
http://research.amnh.org/users/tyson/essays/TheHorrorTheHorror.html
Interview with another firefighter telling of explosions:
http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/Banaciski_Richard.txt
Firefighter saw “sparkles” (strobe lights on detonators?) before “collapse”:
http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/Fitzpatrick_Tom.txt
Other eyewitnesses talk of seeing/hearing explosions:
http://georgewashington.blogspot.com/2005/11/more-proof-911-inside-job-witnesses-to.html
Surviving eyewitnesses talk of multiple explosions there:
http://www.thememoryhole.org/911/veliz-bombs.htm
Cutter charge explosions clearly visible:
http://www.rense.com/general63/cutt.htm
The pyroclastic wave (that dust cloud that a second before was concrete) and how it wouldn’t be possible without explosives:
http://st12.startlogic.com/~xenonpup/physics/
Detailed description of the demolition of the Twin Towers:
http://gordonssite.tripod.com/id2.html
Freefall rate of “collapses” math:
http://www.911blimp.net/prf_FreeFallPhysics.shtml
More about their freefall rate “collapses”:
http://www.serendipity.li/wot/second_wave.htm
Video footage of the controlled demolition of the Twin Towers:
http://www.plaguepuppy.net/public_html/video%20archive/
Video footage of the controlled demolition of WTC # 7 building:
http://911research.wtc7.net/talks/wtc/videos.html
More
http://www.wtc7.net/
Photos of the Pentagon’s lawn (look at these and see if you can tell me with a straight face that a jumbo jet crashed there):
http://www.911blimp.net/cached/HuntTheBoeing!.htm
More photos of this amazing lawn at the Pentagon:
http://cryptogon.com/docs/Introducing%20the%20amazing%20Penta-Lawn%202000!%20(9-11).htm
Very unconvincing fake “Osama” “confession” tape:
http://welfarestate.com/wtc/faketape/
More about the fake “Osama” tape:
http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/osamatape2.html
Fake “Mohammed Atta” “suicide” letter:
http://www.welfarestate.com/wtc/fake-letters.txt
Commercial pilots disagree with “official” 9/11 myth:
http://www.prisonplanet.com/september_11_us_government_accused.htm
More commercial jet pilots say “official” myth is impossible:
http://www.masternewmedia.org/2001/10/31/commercial_jet_pilots_analysis_of_the_twin_tower_attack.htm
Impossibility of cell phone calls from United 93:
http://www.physics911.net/cellphoneflight93.htm
More about the impossible cell phone calls:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO408B.html
Experiment proves cell phone calls were NOT possible from anywhere near the altitude the “official” myth has them at:
http://physics911.ca/org/modules/news/article.php?storyid=9
Fake Barbara Olson phone call:
http://www.vialls.com/lies911/lies.htm
Where the hell was the Air Force?
http://www.welfarestate.com/wtc/af-scramble.txt
More about the Air Force impotence question:
http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0331-11.htm
Sept. 10th 2001, Pentagon announces it is “missing” $2.3 trillion (now why do you think they picked THAT day to announce it? So it could be buried the next day by 9/11 news):
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/01/29/eveningnews/main325985.shtml
Unocal pipeline-through-Afghanistan plan:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0513/p05s01-wosc.html
Unocal pipeline-through-Afghanistan plan mentioned:
http://thetyee.ca/Views/2006/05/19/OutOfAfghanistan
More on Unocal Afghan pipeline:
http://www.newscentralasia.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1031
The attack on Afghanistan was planned in the summer of 2001, months before 9/11:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/1550366.stm
Pentagon deliberately misled 9/11 Commission:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=EGG20060802&articleId=2887
9/11 whitewash Commission and NORAD day:
http://fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/071204_final_fraud.shtml
The incredible fish tales of the 9/11 Commission examined:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=%20GR20051213&articleId=1478
Jeb Bush declares state of emergency 4 days before 9/11 for Florida, saying it will help respond to terrorism:
http://www.eionews.addr.com/psyops/news/jebknew.htm
Steel debris removal from Ground Zero, destruction of evidence:
http://911research.wtc7.net/wtc/groundzero/cleanup.html
Over two hundred incriminating bits of 9/11 evidence shown in the mainstream media:
http://thewebfairy.com/killtown/911smokingguns.html
Tracking the “hijackers”:
http://www.welfarestate.com/911/
“Hijacker” patsies:
http://911review.org/Wiki/HijackersPatsies.shtml
“Hijackers” receiving flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station:
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0208/S00085.htm
No Arabs on Flight 77:
http://www.sierratimes.com/03/07/02/article_tro.htm
Flight manifests (tell me if you find any Arabs):
http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2001/trade.center/victims/AA11.victims.html
http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2001/trade.center/victims/AA77.victims.html
http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2001/trade.center/victims/ua93.victims.html
http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2001/trade.center/victims/ua175.victims.html
Thirty experts say “official” 9/11 myth impossible:
http://911fraud.blogspot.com/2005/06/us-governments-offical-911-story-is.html
“Al Qaeda” website tracks back to Maryland:
http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/alqmaryland.html
Al Qaeda videos uploaded from U.S. government website:
http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/july2004/140704governmentwebsite.htm
Operation: Northwoods, a plan for a false-flag “terror” attack to be blamed on Castro to use it as a pretext for America to invade Cuba, thankfully not approved by Kennedy back in 1962 but was approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and sent to his desk:
http://www.prisonplanet.com/us_terror_plan_cuba_invasion_pretext.html

Dear enlightenment: don't use profanity; it's against the rules. Long posts full of unformatted links, and which seem to be cut and pasted all over rather than a contribution to this particular discussion, are also sort of frowned on.

And: paragraphs are always a plus.

I don't know that we have to settle for a guest worker program. The McCain-Kennedy bill approach of "earned citizenship" had the votes to pass the Senate even before. The House just changed dramatically in our favor. And the President is going to want to sign something.

I'm okay with upping enforcement but only if we also up the amount of legal immigration, dramatically.

I agree with Katherine. A guest worker program is better than nothing, but an "earned citizenship" program is better still.

"Enlightenment" seems to have been cut-n-pasting this comment all over the place... and that is against the posting rules.

I ain't taking the blame for that, tho he followed me twice at Ezra's.

OT – Happy Veterans Day to all currently serving and all veterans. If you are lurking Andrew, thank you for your service.

It's one of those odd cultural things but November 11th will always be Armistice Day to me. Accordingly, I tend not to thank veterans on this day -- though obviously I don't make a point of running up to random veterans and hollering "I hate you!" or anything like that -- but rather reflect on peace, the peace processes, and the end of war. Although that said, yes, thank you to all the veterans who served their countries honorably.

Which reminds me: does anyone know if any department stores actually do things for veterans during their Veterans Day sales, or is this just more of the empty commercialism the US seems infected with nowadays?

Added in proof: there's a nice little article by Ezra Klein (h/t Making Light) in a related vein that's worth reading.

Katherine: Before the election we can't act because we're powerless and it's so crucial to gain at least one house of Congress--we just need to win, we can't worry about anything else. After the election we can't act because we're on probation, we have too much to lose. There will never be a right time.

This is why, though I always vote with them, I identify less and less and and less and less and less with the Democratic party over time.

Beautifully said, and sobering, when I realize that I've been going through that same process for 25 years longer than Katherine.

This is why it's essential to have independent movements focused solely on the issues. While packing up the headquarters office yesterday, I let colleagues know that for the next six months, my energy will be going to build pressure to get us out of Iraq. See you in Washington on March 17!

@lj: Economic populism (as distinct from xenophobic anti-immigrationism) is just fine with me, because there certainly is an us and a them. Have a look at Jim Webb's appearance on Lou Dobbs' on Friday (video here); it was music to my ears.

Nell,
thanks for your comment and the video link. If economic populism comes out as demanding the corporations pay their fair share, I will be happy as a clam. Unfortunately, economic populism often morphs into an attempt to punish other countries without addressing the question of corporations outsourcing. I realize that this is not a cut and dried issue, but notions like fair trade often seem to be placed on the opposite side of economic populism, so I remain a bit worried.

OCS Steve and John Thullen

There have indeed been changes at the VA. The horror stories are mostly about the 80s and early 90s. The current VA is arguably the best (that isn’t a misprint, I did mean best) large health care system in the country. The principal reasons why are much better management, embracing computerization, and some more money. See Longman’s article here for more information

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2005/0501.longman.html

He explains why the VA is the best system out there and points to structural reasons why it can deliver healthcare more efficiently than its private sector competitors. It is one of the better reasons I have seen for why a universal healthcare system could work effectively, although I don’t know if it could be expanded that far.

On a personal note, both my father (a WW 2 vet) and myself have received care within the last 3 years in an east coast VA facility and it was excellent. I have also been hospitalized in a non-VA facility and the care was good, but I am still trying to resolve the billing issues.

or is this just more of the empty commercialism the US seems infected with nowadays

If you mean something such as donating some proceeds to a veteran’s cause or offering a nice discount to anyone with a military ID – I have never heard of it occurring no. So I would have to go with the empty commercialism.

Empty commercialism? From corporations? The devil, you say!

I'm fairly certain that businesses don't do anything special for Christians at Christmas, for Mayflower descendants on Thanksgiving, or for Irish people on St. Patrick's Day despite advertising gigantic sales on those days, either.

Besides, anyone with a military ID can just go to his or her nearest PX and get some savings by avoiding sales tax, 365 days a year. :)

And many of the most anti-immigrant candidates lost.

Is that anti-immigrant, or anti-illegal-immigrant?

Twin Towers’ construction certifiers say they should have easily withstood it:

Bob Bowman, is that you?

Was that a "9/11 was actually done by the US" post? I didn't want to bother reading it.

The 9/11 "truther" types give far lefties and fellow travellers a bad name--why is it that people can't just condemn the US for the crimes it actually commits (there ain't no shortage of them), rather than dreaming up these idiotic conspiracy theories.

Not that I'm necessarily opposed to conspiracy theories--the notion that Bush and his minions got us into Iraq on false pretenses is a conspiracy theory and a true one, I think. But really stupid conspiracy theories help give the whole genre a bad name.

OT: Feingold isn't running for President.

I tend to think that he figures he won't actually win, and without winning he stands a better chance of making a difference as part of a Senate majority. Which makes sense to me.

I really hope Obama or Gore runs. If not, maybe I'll support Clark or Edwards? (I could support one of the latter two anyway--Obama in particular remains somewhat of a cipher to me. Hard to say.)

Donald Clarke:

Thanks for the VA info. I was aware of the VA's renaissance but wanted to stick to specific, anecdotal example.

LJ and others:

My general impression of the immigration debate is that this is one issue in which the worst instincts of both parties could cross-fertilize to result in stupid, populist, nationalist, xenophobic policies. Especially if we head into a recession after five years of a recovery in which, generally speaking, those at the bottom end have not benefited as those at the top have.

That's a juicy slice of the electorate open to demagoguery.

Throw in free trade as an adjunct issue to immigration. And heathcare and corporate retirement play into this, too. Need I mention terrorism?

After all, you can always get Archie Bunker to bash immigrants as a Republican. But if you send his job to Bolivia and take away his healthcare insurance, he would be happy to bash immigrants and free trade from the Democratic side of the aisle. Especially when he finds out his job as a computer programmer, which he went to all that trouble to retrain for, went the same place as his job on the loading dock.

Of course, he could go back to the loading dock because of the increased numbers of imports that need unloading, but then he would discover the wonders of productivity, which don't include him and his bad back and his carpal tunnel syndrome.

He could open another bar. And hire illegals under the table and rage about the minimum wage, thus shooting all theories to hell, with the exception of the theory of demagoguery.

Reform of some kind is needed; the devil, as always, is in the details.

Katherine, I like Al Gore.

But, can someone tap him on the padded suitcoated shoulder and suggest he lose the florid, thick-necked, dark-shirted, vaguely shiny-suited, casual Tony Soprano look?

Every time I see him on the tube, I think to myself that it is vaguely discomfiting that the Mafia has an interest in stopping the ice fields in Greenland from melting. What's their angle?

I know this makes me seem shallow. Well, that, and everything else that comes out of my mouth.

Y'know, there's no point in trying to post right after John. I'll just put up a boring buffer zone to make the ground safer for whoever comes next.

it is vaguely discomfiting that the Mafia has an interest in stopping the ice fields in Greenland from melting. What's their angle?

Maybe that's where Hoffa's body is.

Bernard, it would be funny if radical global warming resulted in Hoffa's partially frozen corpse floating up against the pier at Kennebunkport.

And speaking of the dust settling ....

I have two words for happy Democrats like me...

MIKE PENCE

This is a Republican who will never receive a massage from a male prostitute. And he would never turn down a tax cut from a male prostitute.

He's the new Republican rock star. Groupies vote, ya know.

Belatedly, lily, link tutorial:

<a href="http://www.cnn.com">CNN's home page</a>

The URL goes in the quotes. Navigate to the page you want to link to, then copy that URL out of the address bar in your browser. (copy and paste is another tutorial entirely :)

You can either paste that URL where the words "CNN's home page" are, or you can write a description of what you're linking to.

If this is helpful, I recommend you copy and paste this entire comment into Notepad and save it to your documents folder so you can review it anytime.

And this morning we hear that Pelosi is going with John Murtha as Majority Leader.

So far, it's looking more like theater than I'd have liked.

What about Pelosi's choice is theater, Slart? It makes complete sense if you stop to think about it. The two of them are known to be close, and whether you like it or not, Murtha is widely admired by many in the party for his foreign policy chops and his willingness to speak out about the debacle that Iraq has become. Murtha has more spine than half the Senate put together.

What about Pelosi's choice is theater, Slart?

Other than: it looks as if Pelosi might be taking TPMMuckraker's list of less-than-squeaky-clean democrats as a checklist for promotions?

Nothing. I guess if I don't like it, I can always redeploy myself to Okinawa. For the right amount of money, I mean.

it looks as if Pelosi might be taking TPMMuckraker's list of less-than-squeaky-clean democrats as a checklist for promotions?

Well, in contrast to what went before, there's a bit difference. It reminds me of the two guys in the woods when a bear bursts out and starts after them. One guy takes off, but the other guy puts down his pack and pulls out his running shoes and starts lacing them up. The other guy stops and says 'are you nuts? You have to run faster than that bear' The guy looks at him and says 'no, I just have to run faster than you...'

This is not to say that 'cleaner than what came before' is the best of slogans, but it is worth a thought.

But in the interest of bipartianship, Okinawa is very nice and I certainly could wish that on Slarti.

This is not to say that 'cleaner than what came before' is the best of slogans

Exactly my point: "we're going to clean up Congress by putting our most corrupt in charge" doesn't make for the best of New Directions.

But in the interest of bipartianship, Okinawa is very nice and I certainly could wish that on Slarti.

I was just kidding about that; it's way too close to Iraq.

Katherine, you wrote

I don't think any of those are politically so radioactive, but I wouldn't be confident in them having majority public support to start out with--you'd have to try to change public opinion. And this is not what the Democrats do, and I don't expect them to start. Before the election we can't act because we're powerless and it's so crucial to gain at least one house of Congress--we just need to win, we can't worry about anything else. After the election we can't act because we're on probation, we have too much to lose. There will never be a right time.

This is why, though I always vote with them, I identify less and less and and less and less and less with the Democratic party over time.

It is eerie how often you represent the flip side of what I think. I sometimes feel like your dark side.

This is exactly my experience with Republicans and "smaller government" since the 1980s. The "always vote for them" part ended this year, but otherwise that precisely describes my frustration on the misalignment between rhetoric about issues which are important to me, and how things actually play out. Politics is a deeply depressing thing in so many ways.

This will play out similarly with gerrymandering for instance. Like embracing fiscal responsibility, noticing the evils of gerrymandering is a fiction of the party out of power while embracing its corruption is a function of being in power. Over at samefacts.com they have hammered again and again (and rightly so) against Republicans for being willing to sacrifice the political landscape to maintain power. The worm turns quickly.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad